Artists create out of the stimuli they net as experience. But what if our limited energies as artists (there are only so many hours in a day) were focused on others’ needs, fears and desires? What if we focus on the audience of our choosing? What if our life energies were in the service of others?
During the teaching process, I will often ask artists who their audience is. This is what I commonly hear, “Everyone.” This is an answer that fails, every time. This answer fails as there is no product, work of art, piece of music, etc. that appeals to all people. To think otherwise, is naive.
Instead of having a broad appeal when creating, and naively assuming everyone will love our work, we do ourselves a greater service by being specific in regards to who we are serving. In becoming so, we have a clearer set of goals we can establish, a clearer direction to point our energies.
I say, “serving”, as service is what we engage in when we create for an-other or others.
When we have someone else or a body of people, specifically, in mind and we create for them, we have a greater chance of developing a loyal and supportive following. What’s more, we gain a perpetual muse, giving artists a regular source of inspiration from which to create.
As the market for artists is at over-capacity (too many players and not enough conventional opportunities), we must do all that is within our respective powers to increase our chances/odds of making a living in the arts. Knowing for whom you create, is step one.
The only way to become necessary as an artist is through an act of service.
Why would artists want to be “necessary”? In being necessary, to one’s community, to a niche audience, or to a world-wide audience, based upon web communication, one dramatically increases their chances of making a living from their creativity and artistry.
But how does one know who their audience is?
We start by making a decision. We choose. To help answer this question, I ask students who their people are. Who is your tribe? What are the interests of your selected audience? What’s their age-makeup? What are their likes and dislikes? Where are they located? Who is interested in what you have to say? Are they male, female, young, old or a mix? Get as specific as possible.
We can begin identifying these answers by directly engaging with our audience. We can do so by asking questions or interviewing them.
One can start with their facebook group. By posting content of value for free and casting it outward, we begin to see who our work resonates for.
Blogs are great ways to become more specific about ideas and to establish oneself as an expert. As we enter Tag words, so that others can find us online, we have the potential to attract people who are specifically looking for what we write about.
If this content is valuable (meaning the audience gets something out of what you have created), there is a higher likelihood that they will return. If content is updated often, one’s audience will likely return, provided that quality and relevance is maintained. As they return, they may subscribe to your blog or feed or, even better, they may share your content with others. Thus, your audience grows and your true supporters become an arm of your marketing team as well as your community of choice.
There are so many remarkable and free tools that are available for artists to market themselves with. Some figure out how to do this on their own, through instincts, trial and error. But think how others benefit by having marketing and PR as part of their respective educations–enabling artists to broadcast their unique artistic voice.
Newsletters, through free platforms like www.mailchimp.com, enable audience members to subscribe to one’s newsletter and receive updated content.
The other day, I saw a class that was conducted with students in Dallas and a teacher in Japan via Skype and a projector. They freely communicated with each other. Truly, the world-wide web is world-wide.
Choreographers can share their work online and be discovered locally and internationally, leading to new opportunities and through communication via such platforms, an expanded network.
Students in school today have grown up playing with the myriad of tools found on their computers, enabling them to create music, videos, podcasts, blogs and apps. The potential through the web is vast and will continue to grow in relevance for contemporary and independent artists and companies, indefinitely.
Welcome to the digital age.
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Jim Hart serves as Assistant Professor of Practice, Director of Arts Entrepreneurship Program at SMU www.smu.edu. Hart is also the founder of TITAN Teaterakademi or The International Theatre Academy Norway.